CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I often admit things publicly about myself that I probably shouldn't.
Like that my husband and I have had conversations about what our dogs' voices would sound like if they were human.
I guess it's not all that strange to have done that with our oldest dog, Murry, considering total strangers have remarked that he looks like a surfer. I suppose it's because his moppy blond hair is almost always in his eyes, plus his facial expression and demeanor are what you'd expect of one whose been bonked on the head with a surfboard. He's the canine version of Sean Penn's Spicoli character from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."
So, yeah. If Murry were human, instead of periods at the end of his sentences, his would finish with "Dude."
What makes less sense is that Geoff and I were recently watching one of the old "Lethal Weapon" movies with our middle dog, Chewie, lying belly-up between us. When Joe Pesci (as Leo Getz) came on the screen, at nearly the exact same moment, Geoff and I said, "That's Chewie!"
That anyone could look at Joe Pesci and be reminded of a middle-aged, chunky silky terrier might seem like a stretch, but to us, it totally fit.
But when it came to our closet dog, Roo, we didn't agree. Geoff insists she would whisper, while I think she'd be shrill.
Our cats weren't as easy. Aside from agreeing that their voices would drip with disdain, it was hard to assign a human voice to either. (Geoff suggested William F. Buckley for one and Mike Tyson for the other.)
Still, I became curious about whether other pet lovers imagined what their pet's human voice would sound like. After asking around, I soon learned two things:
One, plenty of dog owners will admit to having done the same thing.
And two, not a single one of them will allow me to use their name in print.
This is so completely unfair. Give me something as golden as telling me your dog sounds like Angela Lansbury and then say, "But no ..."
I did a quick look online and was surprised to find a few pet-related chat boards where the subject came up. The precision of some of the responses were hilarious.
Said one Lab owner, "Zach would sound like Peter Brady in the episode where his voice changes."
Another said her dog would sound like "Roger Rabbit, but in a woman's voice."
A couple said their dogs would have a "big, dumb voice," that was something like Eeyore from "Winnie the Pooh" or the "Which way did he go, George?" voice from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.
So yeah, along with knowing what our dogs would sound like if they were human, we sometimes take it to the next level and speak for the dog.
"Don't try blaming me for that one, buddy. I'm outta here."
"Can I go? Huh? Huh? Can I? Can I? Can I, pleeease?"
"Gee, thanks for the crumb. Sure you could spare it? Might need to reconsider that unconditional clause in our contract."
Wednesday morning, while on our early-morning walk, we came upon a group of deer grazing in a neighbor's front yard. One doe took off running, then looked over its shoulder and realized the others hadn't moved, so it stopped. She looked at them, then at us, and then back at the group.
"Hey! C'mon, guys. Aren't we supposed to run? We're supposed to run, aren't we?" I said, in the best angst-filled doe voice I could manage.
"Really?" Geoff said, "You're doing deer voices now?"
Chewie looked embarrassed.
And Murry said, "Dude."
Reach Karin Fuller via email at email@example.com.